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Steve King, Known for Incendiary Racist Comments, Loses Iowa Re-Election Bid

Iowa Congressman Steve King lost his bid for reelection in Tuesday’s Republican primary, dashing his hope of surviving the toughest challenge of his political career and winning a 10th term in the U.S. House.

DES MOINES, Iowa (CN) — Iowa Congressman Steve King lost his bid for reelection in Tuesday’s Republican primary, dashing his hope of surviving the toughest challenge of his political career and winning a 10th term in the U.S. House.

State Senator Randy Feenstra was the unofficial victor over King and three other Republican candidates.

King’s outsized national reputation for a congressman from a rural state was constructed largely from incendiary statements that had long riled liberal critics. Even House Republican leaders reached their limit last year, however, following a New York Times interview in which he seemed to defend white supremacists, and they stripped him of all committee assignments.

Facing four Republican primary opponents in northwest Iowa’s sprawling 4th District, King had just $32,000 in the bank on May 13. Key political leaders in Iowa — including evangelical Christians and conservative business groups — abandoned him in this election.

Feenstra, a state senator since 2009, raised close to $1 million and was widely endorsed among Iowa’s Republican establishment. While Feenstra would likely vote no different than King on gun control, immigration, and tax cuts, his supporters say he would be a more effective legislator in Congress.

King came within three percentage points of losing his seat in 2018 to Democratic opponent J.D. Scholten, who is running again in November.

“I am truly humbled by the outpouring of support over the past 17 months that made tonight possible and I thank Congressman King for his decades of public service,” Feenstra said in a statement released Tuesday night. “As we turn to the General Election, I will remain focused on my plans to deliver results for the families, farmers, and communities of Iowa. But first, we must make sure this seat doesn’t land in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and her liberal allies in Congress. Tomorrow, we get back to work.”

Iowans turned out in record numbers for Tuesday’s primary, according to the Secretary of State’s office. Most voted by absentee ballot, thanks in large part to Secretary of State Paul Pate, who sent out absentee-ballot request forms to all Iowa registered voters. Polk, the largest county in the state, consolidated 135 polling places to just 28 for this election, a concession to the Covid-19 virus.

In another closely watched Iowa race, Theresa Greenfield was projected to win the Democratic nomination to run against incumbent Republican Senator Joni Ernst in November.

Among the four Democrats who were vying to take on Ernst, Greenfield had captured key endorsements from state legislators, labor organizations, EMILY’s List, and the national Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. She had raised more than $7 million as of May 13, four times as much as her nearest primary competitor.

Greenfield grew up on a Minnesota farm and found herself a widow at age 24, with a toddler and second child on the way, when her husband was killed in a workplace accident. Today she works with her second husband in a marketing and communications company in Des Moines.

“Thank you, Iowa. I’m honored to be your Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate,” Greenfield said in a tweet Tuesday night. “We’re one step closer to flipping this Iowa Senate Seat.”

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Mark Smith congratulated Greenfield in a statement released by the party Tuesday night, saying, “A scrappy farm kid whose life experience embodies the Iowa story, Theresa will be a champion for our working families, and will always stay true to her roots by cleaning up a corrupt Washington that lacks the values and character that Iowans demand.”

Ernst, a Republican, is seeking a second term after winning Iowa’s Senate seat long held by Democratic Senator Tom Harkin. Many Iowa voters seem to be having second thoughts about Ernst, however: A March Iowa Poll by the Des Moines Register/Mediacom showed her approval rating slipping 10 points, to 47%. Nationally, the Democratic Party hopes to capitalize on Ernst’s perceived vulnerability to recapture the U.S. Senate in November.

Three other Iowa Congressional races produced clear winners in Republican primaries.

In the 2nd District in southeast Iowa, state Senator Mariannette Miller-Meeks won the Republican primary. Democrat Rita Hart, a former state Senator who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2018, was unopposed in Tuesday’s primary. They will compete for an open seat following the retirement of incumbent Democrat Dave Loebsack.

In the 3rd District in southwest Iowa, which includes Des Moines, former two-term Republican Congressman David Young won the right to run in November to reclaim the seat lost to incumbent Congresswoman Cindy Axne two years ago.

And, in the 1st District in northeast Iowa, Ashley Hinson, a former TV reporter and member of the Iowa House of Representatives, won the Republican nomination. She will face Democratic incumbent Abby Finkenauer, who is defending the seat she won in 2018.

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